ARIZONA CARDINALS

As a Duke grad, Cardinals OLB Victor Dimukeje expected to be fast learner

May 12, 2021, 5:57 AM

Victor Dimukeje #51 of the Duke Blue Devils sacks Kelvin Hopkins Jr. #8 of the Army Black Knights d...

Victor Dimukeje #51 of the Duke Blue Devils sacks Kelvin Hopkins Jr. #8 of the Army Black Knights during their game at Wallace Wade Stadium on August 31, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 34-14. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

When you graduate early from Duke with an evolutionary anthropology degree, med school dreams and a past history of catching on quickly, you’re assumed to be a smart dude with a sharp learning curve.

Arizona Cardinals rookie Victor Dimukeje enters rookie minicamp at the end of the week knowing that Chandler Jones and Markus Golden will be starting ahead of him on the depth chart at outside linebacker.

But if stereotypes about Duke graduates with unique academic interests are true, then don’t count out that the 2021 sixth-round draft pick could show enough to earn early playing time in defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s blitz-heavy scheme.

“Just the opportunity to attend Duke … it’s a challenging place as a football player and as an academic student,” Dimukeje said Tuesday. “It was definitely like a grind for me. I take it as a compliment when coaches expect me to pick up stuff faster.”

Dimukeje became a starter for the Blue Devils his freshman year and piled up 49 starts in his four college seasons. A defensive end in college, he posted 16 sacks and three forced fumbles over his final two seasons at Duke.

Now in a 3-4 defense and expected to play outside linebacker, the 6-foot-2, 262-pound pass rusher will have quite a bit of competition once the full Cardinals team meets up. Among those behind Jones and Golden on the depth chart are veteran Devon Kennard and 2020 second-leading sack man Dennis Gardeck — though Gardeck is coming off an ACL injury.

“I’ve actually watched (Jones) a lot since I started playing football,” Dimukeje said. “Just having a guy, an older guy, a vet like that that you can learn from and play with, that’s a huge deal. I’m ready to get to Arizona, get to work from him, try to watch him, watch how he do.”

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim compared Dimukeje to the similarly undersized Golden after the linebacker was drafted 210th overall. Keim said Dimukeje’s motor, long arms and “niftiness” impressed Arizona’s scouting department.

Dimukeje said that learning the entirety of a defensive scheme helped him make a near-immediate impression when his Duke career began. Learning his job and what the linebackers and safeties behind him are assigned to do can help him pick up things more quickly in the NFL, he said.

Like different positions work in concert with one another to play a scheme, athletes’ body parts work with one another to perform a movement. That was an area of focus for Dimukeje in getting his evolutionary anthropology degree a semester early.

“I’ve always been into medicine. My whole family — my mom’s a nurse, my sister’s a nurse,” the pass rusher said before crediting his family’s work ethic. “So I was kind of interested in the physical therapy aspect, the kinesiology. I chose to do that because I was hoping to go to med school at some time.

“That major kind of helps me know more about the body — it consists of anatomy, osteology. So it helps me know what body parts I’m working in the weight room, when I’m stretching, stuff like that.”

So, yes, evolutionary anthropology seems more applicable to NFL football than you might think. Meanwhile, Dimukeje’s med school dreams have been put on hold.

“That was one of my goals going into college,” Dimukeje said. “Right now, I’m just focused on football, playing as long as possible.”

His doctorate in taking down quarterbacks begins Friday.

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Cardinals

Marvin Harrison Jr....

Arizona Sports

Cardinals rookies Marvin Harrison Jr., Darius Robinson throw out 1st pitch at D-backs game

The Arizona Cardinals' rookie class took to Chase Field to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Los Angeles Angels.

1 day ago

...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Can the Arizona Cardinals’ elite rushing attack take a step up this season?

Can the Arizona Cardinals' elite rushing attack take a step up this season? Ron Wofley and Paul Calvisi debate.

2 days ago

Max Melton at Cardinals minicamp...

Tyler Drake

Max Melton, Elijah Jones ‘growing together’ alongside Arizona’s young CBs

The makeup of the Cardinals CBs room calls for added competition. It also brings a level of togetherness that's been on display early on.

2 days ago

Kyler Murray...

Ryan Pasiecznik

Cardinals’ Kyler Murray lands in top 50 of NFL player sales list

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray placed 47th in the top 50 NFL players sales list, released recently.

2 days ago

Max Melton and Elijah Jones stop by the Cardinals Corner podcast...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals Corner(s): Max Melton, Elijah Jones talk offseason, smooth NFL transition

It was a double dose of Cardinals guests on the latest episode of Cardinals Corner, with rookies Max Melton and Elijah Jones swinging by.

2 days ago

Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon isn’t built for sound bites but has brought in the right vib...

Dan Bickley

Arizona Cardinals are doing right under head coach Jonathan Gannon

Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon isn’t built for sound bites but has brought in the right vibes as the team looks to compete in 2024.

2 days ago

As a Duke grad, Cardinals OLB Victor Dimukeje expected to be fast learner